We believe that teaching in the twenty-first century is driven by the aim of creating self-motivated, ambitious and confident individuals. As English teachers, it is our primary goal to empower our pupils with the skills to utilise and interpret language and to negotiate the ever-changing and complex world of multimedia communication in which they live but also to encourage a love of reading and an appreciation of literature.
“We live for books.” Umberto Eco
We also aim to develop essential life skills through enjoyable interactive learning, enabling pupils to express themselves clearly and effectively, thus building confidence and allowing them to fulfil their true academic potential.
We work hard to ensure that the texts and stimuli chosen are relevant and involve learners in an engaging and challenging way. Our focus on contemporary issues is carefully balanced with promoting an appreciation of the literary canon. Our pupils study a range of texts from Euripides to Shakespeare; Orwell to Joyce as well as writers such as Atwood, Ngozi Adichie, McCarthy and Zephaniah. Regular current-event-based activities are also used to encourage pupils to develop their skills as open-minded thinkers.
Careful planning and individualised target setting and tracking are central to the work of our department. With our smaller classes, we can build on prior attainment in a focused and meaningful way.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Franklin.
S1 and S2
Our S1-2 course is designed to build on pupils’ prior experience of language and literacy and cultivate their critical and creative thinking. It aims to offer breadth and depth of study through the use of different contexts for learning. Across the Department, we aim for excellence in learning and teaching at all levels and strive to ensure pupils will be actively engaged with their learning and the experiences we offer. We aim to provide a course that is sculpted around the skills pupils need to develop through our texts and units. This allows teachers to structure their planning to meet the needs and interests of the learners in their class more effectively.
Pupils will be exposed to a broad range of texts and they will develop their skills in the core aspects of English – Reading, Writing, Listening and Talking.
Throughout the course, pupils will be given regular opportunities to reflect on their progress with their teacher and generate targets for their learning. This will be carried out in their good work jotters and summative profiles, using the feedback given on the outcomes they produce.
The department expects pupils to read a minimum of twenty minutes each day throughout S1-3. Pupils will keep a record of their reading throughout the year.
By the end of each year, all pupils will have built up a portfolio of work which illustrates the progress they have made across the areas of Reading, Writing, Listening and Talking. Pupils will record Success Criteria, Areas of Strength and Areas for Development for each outcome.
The portfolio will include a range of outcomes:
- Reading for Understanding, Analysis & Evaluation assessments
- Critical responses to a variety of texts studied
- Imaginative, personal/ reflective, functional and persuasive writing in different formats appropriate to the context.
- Evidence of engagement in formal group discussion
- Critical listening assessments
- Evidence of a pupil’s ability to deliver solo talks and participate in group presentations
- Responses to personal reading
In S1 and S2, the focus is on providing pupils with a solid foundation in key literacy skills.
We study a range of texts depending on the needs of our pupils. Recent selections have included: Theresa Breslin, Michael Morpurgo, Frank O’Connor, R J Palacio, William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, James Watkins, Malala Yousafzai and Benjamin Zephaniah.
In the National 5 English course, there is an emphasis on the development and application of key language skills closely associated with literacy and communication. Language skills have personal, social and economic value and importance. Our ability to use language, and to communicate, lies at the centre of the development and expression of our emotions, our thinking, and our sense of personal identity. It is generally accepted that language competence helps to unlock learning across all subjects.
This course provides candidates with the opportunity to develop skills in reading, writing, talking and listening. Consequently, candidates should be able to understand, analyse, evaluate, and use, detailed language for various purposes in practical and relevant contexts.
This course will allow candidates to encounter and engage with a wide range of texts across literature, language, and the media. The course enables candidates to communicate, to think critically, and to be thoughtful and creative. Candidates will be encouraged to reflect on and build an understanding of, their own experiences, environment, and culture, and the experiences, environments and cultures of others. Through the study of Scottish writers, candidates will develop an appreciation of Scotland’s literary heritage. Language and literature are key aspects of our culture and the cultures of others, and through them can be fostered an awareness, and a celebration of cultural diversity.
At National 5, learners will develop over two years key skills in the evaluation and appreciation of language and its uses. These skills are summarised below:
- Understanding, explaining, analysing and evaluating detailed texts (language, literature and media) in oral and written forms
- Creating, structuring and producing detailed texts for different purposes
- Developing detailed language skills in language, literature and media contexts
- Using different media for learning and communication
- Social and interpersonal skills
- Identifying sources, selecting and using
- Planning, researching and decision-making
- Effective questioning and reflection
- Justifying ideas with evidence
- Communicating ideas, feelings and information orally and in writing with technical accuracy
- Understanding how language works
- Developing cultural awareness
- Using creative and critical thinking to synthesise ideas and arguments
Some recent texts studied at National 5 include Alejandro Amenábar, Margaret Atwood, Harper Lee, George MacKay Brown, Arthur Miller, George Orwell, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and William Shakespeare.
From the SQA Scottish Specified Texts, we have focused on the work of Iain Crichton Smith, Edwin Morgan, Sorley MacLean, Carol Anne Duffy and Norman MacCaig.
The IB Literature A course is designed to offer a comprehensive and enriching study of literature to our students. The course focuses on the critical study and interpretation of literary works from a variety of genres, cultures, and historical periods. It encourages students to engage deeply with literature, fostering an appreciation for language, culture, and diverse perspectives.
The Key Components of the course are:
- Study of Literary Texts: Students explore a range of literary works, including novels, plays, poetry, and non-fiction. These texts are selected to provide a global and multicultural perspective.
- Literary Analysis: The course emphasises the development of critical thinking and analytical skills. Students learn to analyse literary techniques, themes, and contextual elements within texts.
- Cultural Contexts: Understanding the cultural, historical, and social contexts of literature is a key aspect. Students explore how different contexts influence the creation and interpretation of literary works.
- World Literature: The curriculum often includes the study of world literature, exposing students to literary traditions beyond their own cultural background.
- Individual Oral Presentation (IO): Students are required to deliver an individual oral presentation, discussing an aspect of literary works of their choice. This assesses their ability to articulate ideas and engage in literary analysis orally.
- Written Assignments: Students complete written assignments, including essays and commentaries, demonstrating their ability to express complex ideas in writing. At Higher Level, students have the opportunity to complete an essay on a text of their choice.
Assessment is based on both internal and external components. Internal assessment includes coursework, written assignments, and the Individual Oral presentation. External assessments are written exams that evaluate students’ understanding of literary concepts in studied texts and their ability to analyse unseen texts of different genres.
The course aims to develop a range of skills, including critical thinking, communication, research, and independent learning. Students learn to appreciate literature not only for its artistic value but also for its power to convey different perspectives and ideas.
Completing the IB Literature A course is highly regarded by universities and employers worldwide. It not only demonstrates academic rigour but also indicates a student’s ability to engage with complex texts and think critically.
Overall, the IB Literature A course aims to nurture a lifelong appreciation for literature while equipping students with the skills needed for higher education and beyond.
IB Further Reading
There’s some helpful information about IB in the IB Curriculum Guide: https://www.ibo.org/contentassets/5895a05412144fe890312bad52b17044/curriculum.brief-languagea.literature-eng.pdf
There are lots of opportunities for extra-curricular drama. In addition to a wide variety of Junior School shows, we also run a school musical for senior pupils. Past productions have included Grease, Guys and Dolls and The Addams Family. The certificate classes present their acting exam pieces in the Evening of Drama every Spring and a S1/2 Drama club runs in the summer term.
Book a tour
To find out more about how we engender hard work and determination in our young people, come and visit us and meet our dedicated teaching staff and speak to our pupils.